MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS

During Christmas and holiday time our thoughts tend to turn to family. Family means different things to different people. At the Stampede, we often think of our great group of employees and volunteers as our “Stampede Family.” When one thinks deeper about it, however, the Stampede Family is significantly bigger than that group. We have our customers, fans and supporters who live in Calgary, southern Alberta, Canada, the USA and indeed all around the world, and who come year after year to enjoy the 10 days of Stampede. Certainly, they should all be considered part of our extended Stampede Family as we rely on their annual support, which was clearly evident in the bad weather we faced during the 2016 Stampede.

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We also have to remember those who help fund our organization. That includes all three levels of government and specifically the federal government, whose support we are counting on for the BMO expansion project; the provincial government, which provides us with an annual operating grant; and our land partner, the City of Calgary, which has three representatives, including the Mayor, sitting on our Stampede board of directors. There is also a large number of sponsors, who partner with the Stampede; a specific shout out to our Champion level sponsors, Agrium, Bell, BMO, Budweiser, Burnco, Coca-Cola, ENMAX, GMC, Lammle’s, McDonald’s and TransAlta, for all they do.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Stampede 2017

And of course all of our big-hearted donors, who are too numerous to mention and who continue to demonstrate community spirit through their generous support of the Calgary Stampede and the Calgary Stampede Foundation and our various undertakings, including in particular our fantastic Youth Campus project.

Although all of these people and organizations are an appreciated and necessary part of our extended Stampede Family, it is the employees and volunteers who are the Stampede’s nucleus and greatest asset. As I walk around Stampede Park and I am greeted by employees and volunteers with a friendly wave, it makes me very proud of the camaraderie that we have built between employees and volunteers and how much people enjoy being part of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Those feelings came through loud and clear in the recent results from our employee and volunteer engagement surveys.

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Bill awarding Stampede volunteer Cindy Provost with a President’s Certificate of Appreciation for her work with the Indian Events committee

The Stampede is never far from any conversation or interaction in my personal family either. I am exceedingly proud of my oldest daughter, Stephanie, who was a Stampede Princess in 2011. She continues as an active volunteer with the Queens’ Alumni committee and recently organized the very successful Giddy Up Christmas event for special needs children. Stephanie is also an active member of Aggie Days committee.

Bill and daughter, Stephanie, at Giddy Up Christmas
Bill and daughter, Stephanie, at Giddy Up Christmas

I am also hugely proud of my other daughter, Kelsey, who is soon to be “Dr. Gray”, as she is graduating from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary in April 2017. Kelsey is an active member of the Beef Cattle committee and I expect that as a veterinarian, she will have even more involvement with the Stampede in years to come.

As a final note, I could not carry out my role as president & chairman of the board without the continued support and enthusiasm of my wife, Rebecca, who remains the Stampede’s biggest fan. I am a very lucky man to have the Stampede in my life 365 days per year.

To both my personal family and all of the extended Stampede Family mentioned above, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy 2017.
-Bill